The Q&A Archives: Pruning Roses

Question: Just moved to the Hi-Desert (60 miles north of Palm Springs). My yard is filled with rose bushes.

When do I cut them back and how do I cut them. Any sites or pictures would be helpful. I am a plant killer from way back, but these seem to grow effortlessly...I don't want to kill them.

Answer: Roses should be pruned when they're dormant. In your mild winter area, they may never really go dormant, but their growth will slow in January and February. Prune then, before new buds begin to swell and new growth begins.

Different rose types require different types of pruning, but typically it's best not to cut more than 1/3 of the plant back at a time. Then a light pruning follows in September, which can promote more bloom. The book, "Roses for Dummies" can provide more specifics on pruning. Also, check for rose societies/garden clubs in your area. They often give pruning demonstrations which are very helpful to observe if you've never done it before. The American Rose Society, PO Box 30,000, Shreveport, LA, 71130-0030, 318/938 5402, 318/938-5405 fax. can help you locate a club. Good luck!

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